Ralph Lemon coming to Wesleyan University 2/25/16

As part of the World of Arts in the Heart of Connecticut series hosted by the Wesleyan University Center for the Arts, Ralph Lemon will appear at Wesleyan’s Ring Family Performing Arts Hall on February 25, 2016. His presentation, Ceremonies Out of the Air, touches upon both his new and old work in relation to an imagined South.

As a choreographer, writer, director, and conceptualist, Ralph Lemon is a dynamic voice, canonizing what is African American literature and history through his in-depth research and presentation of traditionally African American culture through dance, art, and memoir. In his latest book, Come home Charley Patton, Lemon examines and imagines the South through memoir, documenting the Civil Rights era and contemporary southern culture through his journal entries. Sketches and photographs are included, capturing the haunting sites of lynchings, Civil Rights protests, and meetings between Lemon and the descendants of musicians and activists. A few images from the book, documenting Lemon’s travels, are included below:

one of the bedrooms in Mose Toliver's home

One of the bedrooms in Mose Toliver’s home. Mose Toliver was a folk artist whose art can be found in the Rosa Parks Museum.

a framed image of Elvi Presley in Mrs. Kent's house in Memphis, TN

A framed image of Elvis Presley in Mrs. Helen Kent’s house in Memphis, TN.

Helen Kent in her living room

Helen Kent, the daughter of Frank Stokes, an African American blues musician, in her living room.

in memory of the many protests and marches of Birmingham, AL, Lemon captures an image of a hose, a common weapon to deter peaceful protestors

In memory of the many protests and marches of Birmingham, AL, Lemon captures an image of a hose, a common weapon to deter peaceful protestors.

Announcing “Tempest-Tossed” from Susan Campbell

First full-length biography of a key figure in nineteenth-century American culture


Tempest-Tossed is the first full biography of the passionate, fascinating youngest daughter of the “Fabulous Beecher” family—one of America’s most high-powered families of the nineteenth century. Older sister Harriet Beecher Stowe was the author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Brother Henry Ward Beecher was one of America’s most influential ministers, and sister Catherine Beecher wrote pivotal works on women’s rights and educational reform. And then there was Isabella Beecher Hooker—“a curiously modern nineteenth-century figure.” She was a leader in the suffrage movement, and a mover and shaker in Hartford’s storied Nook Farm neighborhood and salon. But there is more to the story—to Isabella’s character—than that.


Isabella was an ardent Spiritualist. In daily life, she could be off-putting, perplexing, tenacious, charming. Many found her daunting to get to know and stay on comfortable terms with. Her “wild streak” was especially unfavorable in the eyes of Hartford society at the time, which valued restraint and duty. In her latest book, Susan Campbell brings her own unique blend of empathy and unbridled humor to the story of Harriet’s younger half-sister. Tempest Tossed reveals Isabella’s evolution from orthodox Calvinist daughter, wife, and mother, to one of the most influential players in the movement for women’s suffrage, where this unforgettable woman finally gets her proper due.


SUSAN CAMPBELL is the author of Dating Jesus: Fundamentalism, Feminism, and the American Girl and coauthor of Connecticut Curiosities. She has appeared on CBS “Sunday Morning” show, the BBC, and WNPR. Her column about the March 1998 shootings at the Connecticut Lottery headquarters in Newington was part of the Hartford Courants Pulitzer Prize–winning coverage of the tragedy. She lives in East Haven, Connecticut.


“For Isabella Beecher Hooker it was both a blessing and a curse to be born the youngest daughter of one of the most famous families in America. Just when she finally discovered her own calling in the women’s rights movement—working alongside Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony and Victoria Woodhull—she found herself embroiled in the biggest sex scandal of the 19th century, the trial of her own brother for adultery. Susan Campbell has brought Isabella’s fascinating, forgotten story back to life with the deep research of a born historian and the vibrant, readable prose-style of a veteran journalist.”

—Debby Applegate, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for The Most Famous Man in America: The Biography of Henry Ward Beecher

“With a journalist’s concision and eye for the vivid quote, Susan Campbell captures Isabella Beecher Hooker’s quirky temperament and her passion for women’s rights. This wry and personal narrative is deeply informed, balanced, and a delight to read. “

—Joan Hedrick, author of Harriet Beecher Stowe: A Life, winner of the 1995 Pulitzer Prize for Biography

“Susan Campbell’s Tempest Tossed is an enthralling portrait of an American lady: a cross between a character out of Edith Wharton, Emily Bronte, and Sigmund Freud. A work as concerned with the spiritual as it is with the material, readers will find themselves swept up in the details of a particular moment in New England history as it reveals the universal themes of human ambition, frustration, despair, and enlightenment. The writing is gloriously readable and the story is cinematic in its scope and in the crisp development of its remarkable characters. This book might break your heart in some places, but it engages and inspires on every page.”

—Gina Barreca, author of Babes in Boyland: A Personal History of Coeducation in the Ivy League


The Driftless Connecticut Series is funded by

the Beatrice Fox Auerbach Foundation Fund

at the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving



236 pp., 30 illus., 6 x 9”

Paper, $18.95



eBook, $22.99



Biography / American History


Consider shopping local this holiday season!

We reached out to our local independent booksellers to find out what fun events they have planned for Small Business Saturday, Cyber (or CIDER) Monday, and the rest of the holiday season. If you shop for the holidays, please consider ordering or purchasing gifts from local retailers. You might also consider giving a book from a small press or university press. Wesleyan has number of books that would make great gifts, some are included here.


Bank Square Books
53 W. Main St
Mystic, CT 06355
Day-long celebration with local authors: James R. Benn, L.M. Browning, Sarah MacLean, Ruth Crocker, Ann Haywood Leal, Susan Kietzman, David K. Leff, Adam Shaughnessy, and Robert Steele.

Breakwater Books
81 Whitfield St
Guilford, CT 06437
Book signing with Mary Sharnick, Orla’s Canvas, 12–2PM

Hickory Stick Bookshop
2 Green Hill Rd.
Washington, CT 06794
Book signing with Marilyn Singer, Tallulah’s Tap Shoes, 2PM

Mystic Seaport Museum Store
75 Greenmanville Ave
Mystic, CT 06355
Book signing with Roger C. Taylor, L. Francis Herreshoff: Yacht Designer,  3pm

*November 30th* CIDER MONDAY

Breakwater Books
81 Whitfield St
Guilford, CT 06437
Join us on “Cider Monday” (our version Cyber Monday) & enjoy warm cider and snacks as you do your holiday shopping. Leave your computer and shop in a local bookstore where real people can help you with your selections. Enjoy an old fashioned shopping experience! (View more events here.)

Hickory Stick Bookshop
2 Green Hill Rd.
Washington, CT 06794
Enjoy a cup of cider and a snack as you have an old-fashioned holiday shopping experience in a real bookstore with real people to help you. We promise our “servers” won’t crash, but instead will offer recommendations that will help you with your selections. We’ll even wrap your gifts!

Additional Events

Bank Square Books
53 W. Main St
Mystic, CT 06355
December 1 – Mystic Stroll, businesses in Mystic stay open late for holiday shoppers! That night, we will host cookbook author Ellen Stimson for a cookie contest and cookie swap. More info here.

Breakwater Books
81 Whitfield St
Guilford, CT 06437
December 3 – E-List’s annual Girls Night Out Guilford, 5PM. Meet at Whitfields, to start with a 1/2 price glass of wine! More info here.

Broad Street Books
45 Broad St
Middletown, CT 06457
December 19 – Scooby Doo books and read by Santa
Broad Street Books is also a one of the sponsors of Middletown’s Holiday on Main Street.

Burgundy Books
1285 Boston Post Rd
Westbrook, CT 06498
November 21 – Luncheon with Carl Safina, Beyond Words: What Animals Think and Feel, 12PM
December 15 – Book signing with Susannah Cahalan, Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness,  12:30PM

Harbor Books
146 Main St
Old Saybrook, CT 06475
December 4 – Old Saybrook’s Winter Stroll, stop by at our table for a free novelty bookmark!

Hickory Stick Bookshop
2 Green Hill Rd.
Washington, CT 06794
December 5 – Donna Marie Merritt, We Walk Together, 2PM
December 6 – Jack Chaucer, Nikki Blue: Source of Trouble

Mystic Seaport Museum Store
75 Greenmanville Ave
Mystic, CT 06355
December 5 – Book signing with Carlo DeVito, Wreck of the Whale Ship Essex: The Complete Illustrated Edition, 1PM
December 6 – Book signing with Paul S. Krantz, Riding the Wild Ocean, 2pm

R.J. Julia Booksellers
768 Boston Post Rd
Madison, CT 06443
December 2 – Book signing with Ellen Stimpson, An Old Fashioned Christmas, 7PM
December 3 – Teens Talk Books Holiday Party, 6PM
December 6 – Santa Letter Writing Workshop, 12PM–1:30PM
December 18 – Voices In The Bookstore, local authors read their work, 6PM
December 20 – The Grinch Story Time, 10:30AM

Gift Ideas from Wesleyan University Press

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Honoring Veterans of Connecticut and Beyond

Connecticut Veterans


The Battle of Antietam, pictured here, claimed over 22,000 casualties in one day. Years later, a soldier remembered: “for the six months following everything I ate drank or smelled had an odor of dead men in it and the memory of the scene and the place and the four trees that stood in the field to mark the place of burial will never be effaced.” (Manuscript of William Relyea, pp. 54–55, Connecticut Historical Society, Hartford.) From Heroes for All Time


Nurse Harriet Ward Foote Hawley, who hailed from Connecticut wrote of her charge: “I can’t let them die—if they do a piece of my life dies too.” From Heroes for All Time.


Connie Nappier, Jr., Tuskegee Airman and native of Connecticut, c. 1944–1945. Courtesy of Connie Nappier and The Veterans Oral History Project at Central Connecticut State University (40-1, p308) From African American Connecticut Explored

Wesleyan poets who served in WWII and the Vietnam War


Left: The late Harvey Shapiro earned a Distinguished Flying Cross serving as a B-17 tail gunner during WWII.
Right: Yusef Komunyakaa earned a Bronze Star for his service in Vietnam, working as a specialist for the military paper Southern Cross. 

#tbt: Readings Across Time & Space with the Ancestors


On November 29th, 1781, somewhere between the coast of West Africa and the island of Jamaica, some 150 enslaved Africans were thrown into the Atlantic Ocean on orders of the captain of the ship Zong. The book length poem, Zong! by M. NourbeSe Philip, was written entirely from the words of the legal decision regarding this massacre. This legal document is the only extant public document related to the massacre. Participatory and ritual, Zong! is an interplay between noise and silence. It performs, even as it seemingly unperforms, ideas of history and memory.

On November 29th, 2013, those who lost their lives aboard Zong were remembered with readings in Toronto, Brazil, Tobago, Trinidad, Blomfontein, and in New York at Unnameable books. Participants were invited to the sacred a space where ancestral voices join with voices of the living. The exchange was facilitated through spoken word, music, video, movement and improvisation, creating a polyvocal, counterpointed soundscape. View a video of one of the events here.

You can catch M. NourbeSe Philip at Wesleyan’s Memorial Chapel this evening, where she will be joined Wesleyan’s own Gina Athena Ulysse for an evening of poetry-based performances.

Related books:

Making Freedom: The Extraordinary Life of Venture Smith

The Logbooks: Connecticut’s Slave Ships and Human Memory

Announcing “Riverview Hospital for Children and Youth”

“No child will be considered too sick emotionally, or too disturbed,
or too unmanageable to be deprived of an opportunity to learn.” 
—William Glasser, Schools Without Failure


Prior to 1972, visitors to Connecticut state mental hospitals might have noticed a six-year-old chronically depressed girl crouching in the corner of a chaotic cafeteria, or a seven-year-old autistic boy sleeping on a cot next to a seventy-year-old schizophrenic man. Riverview Hospital for Children and Youth tells the story of one of the first milieu based therapeutic hospitals specializing in children’s care, located in Middletown, Connecticut. Richard J. Wiseman, its first superintendent, offers his own story and treatment philosophy alongside the voices of the many people who worked tirelessly to free children from an adult mental health facility, and to treat children as children. This important book provides access to decades of experiences, useful tools, and knowledge regarding the treatment of children requiring mental health care. Weaving first-person narrative and interviews with staff, administrators, and patients, Riverview Hospital for Children and Youth testifies to the passion and determination it took to spring children from an adult mental health ward and bring them into a place of their own. A companion ebook comprising three original staff manuals is also available.

RICHARD J. WISEMAN is one of the pioneers of modern mental health treatment for children, and was the first in Connecticut to argue that autism was a developmental, not a psychiatric, disorder. His work was an important factor in the State of Connecticut’s decision to shift childcare, for children with autism, to the newly named Department of Developmental Disabilities. Wiseman lives in Cromwell, Connecticut.

Also newly available: Riverview Hospital Staff Manuals
These archival materials provide detail that illuminates the treatment philosophy and methods employed by the Riverview staff during the hospital’s formative years. Materials includes the ABCD Program, BLEU Handbook, and Sunburst Handbook.



Riverview Hospital offers readers an inside view of this leading psychiatric hospital for children. As someone with four decades of experience in the private sector, I gained a fresh perspective on how complex and political the public sector is, and new respect for the challenges faced. An excellent resource for students as well as anyone with an interest in the history of children’s services.”
              —David Tompkins, vice president of program services, Klingberg Family Centers

“A fascinating and profound look at the early development of a ‘continuum of care’ model for children’s mental health. Dick Wiseman provides an engaging voice for the staff, administrators, and officials working with the children at Riverview. His understanding and quest for a healthy therapeutic milieu is captured nicely for us through his insight that ‘challenges lead to growth, and growth leads to higher developmental levels, which leads to change.’ The stories and documentation are recommended learning opportunities for students and professionals in the field of children’s services. I so enjoyed the journey.”
              —Gregory Horne, professor emeritus of Psychology and Human Services,
                 Middlesex Community College


Riverview Hospital for Children & Youth
304 pp., 8-1/2 x 11”
$29.95 Jacketed Cloth, 978-0-8195-7589-0
$23.99 Ebook, 978-0-8195-7590-6
Publication Date: November 10, 2015

Riverview Staff Manuals
eBook only, $3.99 Y
Publication Date: November 10, 2015

The Driftless Connecticut Series is funded by
the Beatrice Fox Auerbach Foundation Fund
at the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving

Announcing “Maple Sugaring” from David K. Leff

The art and science of maple syrup, and stories from the people who make it


Maple Sugaring gives readers an intimate look at the art and science of America’s favorite sweet. These stories, told by real-life sugarmakers, reveal how this ancient industry has continued into the twenty-first century. Thanks to the newest technology, and patience, New England sugarmakers are still keeping it real. A former maple sugarmaker and board member of the Connecticut Maple Syrup Producer’s Association, David Leff takes us on a journey into the very heart of New England’s character. Along the way he talks with the sugar gurus, who share their expertise, insights, and anecdotes about their experiences in the business. What makes maple sugaring such a beloved tradition? Is it marketing savvy, family tradition, or something deeper—and harder to tap? This book is for anyone with a sweet tooth who is curious about the science, or who simply enjoys a good story. Maple Sugaring is full of wisdom, quirky characters, and recipes.


DAVID K. LEFF is a former deputy commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection. He is the author of Hidden in Plain Sight: A Deep Traveler Explores Connecticut and other books. His essays have appeared in the Hartford Courant, Appalachia, Yankee, Canoe & Kayak, and The Encyclopedia of New England. He lives in Collinsville, Connecticut.


“From heartwarming family history to the latest trends in sugaring technology, from traditional recipes to new culinary trends, from reminding the reader of the healthy and natural significance of maple syrup to the sugarmaker’s passion for this labor of love, Maple Sugaring cleverly captures what’s best of this time-honored New England tradition. Clearly, David Leff shares our passion.”

—Mike Girard, Girard’s Sugarhouse, Heath, Massachusetts

“David Leff dives into a vat of maple syrup and comes out with a brilliant book on sugaring. His practical know-how and reverence for the practice are matched only by his skill at depicting the kaleidoscopic interaction of character, place, science, and passion that has created the New England culture we know and love. Tree by tree, shack by shack, he builds a world and illustrates it from every angle. Like John McPhee before him, Leff has turned cultural investigation into an art.”

—Eric D. Lehman, author of A History of Connecticut Food

“David Leff provides an excellent account of the maple industry and the incredible sugarmakers that bring us this all-natural sweetener every year. Anyone who loves pure maple syrup and the rural lifestyle of the northeast will greatly enjoy this book.”

—Michael Farrell, author of The Sugarmaker’s Companion: An Integrated Approach to Producing Syrup from Maple, Birch, and Walnut Trees



220 pp., 13 illus., 6 x 9”

Cloth, $24.95



eBook, $19.99 Y


NourbeSe Philip & Gina Ulysse team up!


Atlantic Reasonings Between Caribbean Sisters
Performances by M. NourbeSe Philip and Gina Athena Ulysse
October 15th, 7:30PM in Wesleyan’s Memorial Chapel.

Two Wesleyan Press authors, M. NourbeSe Phlip and Gina Athena Ulysse are teaming up for an evening of powerhouse performances sponsored in large part by Wesleyan’s own Center for the Americas, with a additional support from our English Department’s Concentration in Creative Writing. Other funders include the Andrew W. Melon Fund for Lectures in Ethics; Center for the Arts; Feminist, Gender, & Sexuality Studies; the English Department’s Concentration in Creative Writing; Office of Equity & Inclusion; and Romance Languages & Literatures.

Please, also join us on October 14th, 4:15 PM, in Russell House, for a conversation between M. NourbeSe Philip and Indira Karamcheti–who will discuss Caribbean diasporas, the arts, race and self-care, followed by an open Q&A with audience members.

About the artists:

Gina Athena Ulysse is a performance artist, anthropologist, and author of Why Haiti Needs New Narratives, Downtown Ladies, and Haiti, me & THE WORLD.

M. NourbeSe Philip is a poet, lawyer, and author of She Tries Her Tongue, Her Silence Softly Breaks and Zong!. Her essay collections include A Genealogy of Resistance and Showing Grit.

Respond to the Facebook invite here.

#tbt: Young Union “Soldiers”

Today’s Throwback Thursday images are from the book Heroes for all Time: Connecticut Civil War Soldiers Tell Their Stories. These photographs depict two rather young Union “soldiers”.


The name of boy on the left has been lost to history. He was most likely a former slave who sought shelter with Union soldiers. Many such boys and young men became servants to Union soldiers—cooking, washing clothes, cutting wood, and tending to gear. Some traveled North after the close of the war, to continue working as attendants in the homes of returning soldiers. On the right is Robert Morton, who worked as a servant for Union soldier Robert Potter during the war. As with many African American people who hired themselves to Union soldiers, little is known of his life.

 Adobe Photoshop PDF

Nationwide, and in Connecticut, Sesquicentennial Commemorations of the Civil War are Winding Down.
Wesleyan author Matthew Warshauer has played a large role in the Commemoration efforts here in Connecticut. He is co-chair ofthe Connecticut Civil War Commemoration Commission, author of Connecticut in the American Civil Warand editor of Inside Connecticut and the Civil War. The authors of Heroes for All Time will be at both of the Connecticut events listed below, answering questions about Connecticut soldiers and signing copies of their book—which if full of interesting stories such as those of the two boys photographed above.

August 29th & 30th
After four years of amazing events and an impressive range of new scholarship and understanding of Connecticut’s important role in the Civil War, the Civil War Commemoration is coming to a close during the last weekend of August, 2015. You can join the Connecticut Civil War Commemoration Commission at scenic Bauer Park (Madison, CT) for the final Commission sponsored encampment of the 150th anniversary commemoration. The event will feature hundreds of re-enactors and displays. Be there for the last great battle on Saturday and the official closing ceremonies on Sunday. You can find more information here.

September 12th
Join the Middlesex County Historical Society for a day of history, music, and remembrance in the back yard of the General Mansfield House. The featured speaker will be Edward Ball, acclaimed author of Slaves in the Family, winner of the National Book Award. Tom Callinan, Connecticut’s first State Troubadour, will be on hand to sing popular songs from the Civil War era, as well as original compositions. Re-enactors will portray civilians and soldiers from Company F of the 14th CVI. They will demonstrate camp life including drills, cooking over campfires, and other activities necessary to the operation of an army of the period. You can find more information here.

Readercon Weekend–win a book!

Readercon 26 is taking place this weekend, July9–12, in Burlington, Massachusetts. Returning conference-goers will be used to seeing Leslie Starr at our booth. Alas, Leslie is retiring! Our wonderful new marketing manager, Jaclyn Wilson, is on hand at our booth to answer questions. Please stop by to introduce yourself and check out our new books, including Five Weeks in a Balloon. You can watch a trailer about the book and enter to win a free copy here.


This year, two of Readercon’s three Guests of Honor were published by Wesleyan: Gary K. Wolfe (who is sharing honors with Nicola Griffith) and Memorial Guest of Honor Joanna Russ.

Wolfe is the author of Evaporating Genres: Essays on Fantastic Literature and contributed the introduction to our forthcoming book, Reality by Other Means: The Best Short Fiction of James Morrow. Wesleyan reissued two of Russ’s novels in 2005: We Who Are About To… (with an introduction by Samuel R. Delany) and The Two of Them (with a foreword by Sarah LaFanu). In addition, we published the critical volume On Joanna Russ, edited by Farah Mendlesohn, with contributors Andrew M. Butler, Brian Charles Clark, Samuel R. Delany, Edward James , Sandra Lindow, Keridwen Luis, Paul March-Russell, Helen Merrick, Dianne Newell, Graham Sleight, Jenéa Tallentire, Jason Vest, Sherryl Vint, Pat Wheeler, Tess Williams, Gary K. Wolfe, and Lisa Yaszek.

ReaderCon is full of useful panels and presentations for writers, scholars, editors, and readers. Day passes are available. To read more, please be sure to visit their website, Have a wonderful conference!